Daddy Yankee Heads Campaign for Puerto Rico Art Museum Reconstruction

Jorge J. Muñiz Ortiz

SAN JUAN -- Reggaeton star Daddy Yankee continues to support social and cultural causes in Puerto Rico by becoming Tuesday the spokesman for the reconstruction and expansion of the Art Museum in the southern city of Ponce.

The singer will be the first artist to publicize the message in the media for the campaign "I'm Part of the Work," whose goal is to collect $15 million to finish the work of rebuilding the museum that celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

The singer of "Llamado de Emergencia", "Tension" and "Talento de Barrio" said he hopes children and young people will see his aid as "a tool to help care for this great national treasure of ours."

"Art is creative expression born in a moment of inspiration, whether it's music, painting, writing, whatever you do," the singer, whose real name is Ramon Ayala, told a press conference.

The MAP, as the Ponce institution is known, was founded on Jan. 3, 1959, by then-Puerto Rico Gov. Luis A. Ferre (1904-2003) with 71 paintings he acquired in the 1950s and that date back to the 15th century.

MAP Director Agustin Arteaga said that Daddy Yankee's fame will help "reach a very important goal" in their plan for the museum that has a collection of more than 3,800 European paintings and sculptures from the 13th century to the present day.

Arteaga also acknowledged that it is "an honor" to have the singer as a spokesman for the campaign because it raises awareness of the opportunity and the social responsibility of "serving our young people in this educational mission."

For her part the president of the Luis A. Ferre Foundation, Maria Luia Ferre Rangel, thanked Daddy Yankee for "his support, his availability, but above all for his kindness and interest in the arts that show his genuine commitment to the well-being of the community."

Although Daddy Yankee acknowledged that when he was little his parents never took him to the MAP, he said that he would take his own three kids "so they can begin to understand art." For the same reason, the reggaeton star said, he has begun to buy valuable pieces to decorate his home.

The campaign will include the sale of shopping bags printed with a reproduction of one of the works from the MAP: "Dog Fight" by Dutch painter Jan Baptist Weenix.

With this new project, the self-proclaimed reggaeton king increases the number of social and cultural causes in which he is active in Puerto Rico, including a campaign to help juvenile-hall inmates continue their studies through his Warrior's Heart Foundation.

Last May, Yankee together with the Ana G. Mendez University System donated their first six scholarships to inmates in juvenile correctional facilities so that they can finish their college courses.

Before last November's elections, the artist promoted the vote among young people though the campaign "Vote or Shut Up."

Last week the second edition of the "Take It Seriously" contest finished, with which the singer promoted recycling at some 230 schools on the island. Altogether they managed to collect more than 275 tons of aluminum cans and plastic bottles to be recycled.

**Latin American Gerald Tribune**